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Chapel Hill Building Integrated Communities receives national attention

En español

Chapel Hill Building Integrated Communities received national recognition for its language access plan from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI). The plan was featured in the MPI report “A Framework for Language Access: Key Features of U.S. State and Local Language Access Laws and Policies“. This report identifies the common elements and unique innovations adopted across 40 states and localities. Among the common elements shared are document translation, interpretation services, ensuring accuracy, and training staff. Innovative provisions guiding agency responsibilities that seek to make language access services more durable and responsive include mandating accountability mechanisms and tracking data on Limited English Proficient (LEP) populations and usage of services. The Town of Chapel Hill’s Language Access plan includes all of the common elements and innovative provisions listed above.

The Town of Chapel Hill’s Language Access plan enabled the Town to deploy multilingual covid relief resources to immigrant residents. Chapel Hill translated vital documents, offered demand-based interpretation, and provided multilingual interpretation for community input meetings and Know Your Rights sessions. Staff also worked with Town funding recipient Habitat for Humanity to amend its policies to serve residents with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.

Sarah VinasIn the words of BIC liaison Sarah Osmer Viñas, Interim Director of Housing and Community, “This is an exciting opportunity for other communities to learn from us and see that even smaller cities and towns can make progress on issues like language access if they develop a good plan and have staff in place to lead implementation.”

The Language Access Plan is an outcome of a community-engaged planning process facilitated by the Building Integrated Communities initiative at the Institute for the Study of the Americas from 2017-2019. To read the full assessment and recommendations, visit our Chapel Hill Project page here (

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